Non-Traditional Student Finds Personal Fulfillment in Completing Her Degree

May 10, 2010

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Ravenna resident Barbara Bailey was halfway though baccalaureate services at Mount Union College when she was moved to tears by the realization that she had "made it through."

Bailey is not your typical college student. It took nearly 10 years for her to complete her degree in business with a management concentration, but it was not because she was not applying herself. Bailey went back to college to earn her degree after 20 years in the workforce, so she balanced class work with a 40-plus hour work week.

"It was certainly a juggling act," said Bailey.

Bailey was already involved in a successful career at White Rubber Corporation in Ravenna, but she decided that she wanted to go back to school. A friend of hers, who had her Ph.D., encouraged her to do it. So she began to look for an institution that was the right fit for her. She found that through the Adult Studies Program at Mount Union in Alliance.

"It was a little further for me to drive, but it is a beautiful campus and it is not intimidating. I was looking for the smaller class size because I thought I would get more out of it," said Bailey.

At first, Bailey took only one, perhaps two, courses per semester. However, she later took at least two classes per semester and then pushed it to three courses per semester during her last year. Since she began, she only took one or two semesters off due to traveling obligations for her job. One of the hardest parts of going back to school was keeping up with the homework and reading assignments.

"Oftentimes, on the nights when I did not have class, I stayed late at work. When I came home, I had a lot of reading to do for class. After a long day at the office, picking up a book to read is like taking a sleeping pill!" said Bailey.

The benefits of an undergraduate education were apparent to Bailey even before she completed her degree. Her colleagues have even mentioned the difference to her.

"They have told me that my contributions in discussions and meetings are more meaningful, and I don't think that is just related to the knowledge I have gained. I also have a greater level of confidence, and that is a big plus."

On graduation day, Bailey was happy to pose for pictures with her family and friends on campus. It took quite awhile as she took them to all the spots that she felt would make good backgrounds.

"After driving to campus for nine years, you'd better believe I had all the best photo spots picked out!" said Bailey. "Quite honestly, now that it is all completed, I think I will miss it. It is good to stretch your mind."

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